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L, 2013

Recueil des travaux de lInstitut dtudes byzantines L, 2013

UDC: 378:930.85(495.02)"03/11"
DOI: 10.2298/ZRVI1350029M

ATHANASIOS MARKOPOULOS
(University of Athens)

IN SEARCH FOR HIGHER EDUCATION


IN BYZANTIUM*
This study aims to present and critically investigate the development of the socalled higher education in the Byzantine Empire. Some institutions will be examined,
such as the teaching with public funding (the case of Themistios), the well-known
Pandidakterion of the fifth century, Magnaura in a much subsequent age, and, finally,
the re-organization of education during the reign of Constantine IX Monomachos in the
eleventh century, when, for the last time in its history, a case can be made for a higher
education institution in Byzantium.
Keywords: antecessores, enkyklios paideia, exedra, higher education, law school,
Magnaura, Pandidakterion, schools, scholastikoi, grammatikos, theatron

In an earlier paper about the universal character of Byzantine education I


argued that the term Byzantine education is not acceptable, as Byzantium did not
pave new roads in this area; instead, relying on its Hellenistic and Roman heritage, it
continued almost as a matter of course the educational system already in place, and
retained it with few and not particularly important changes until the empires final dissolution in 1453. I also pointed out that education as a whole formed part of Byzantine
civilisation, for which the term continuity applies with remarkable consistency at all
levels. This concept of Byzantine continuity must be understood as a harmonious
dialogue with the past, undergoing, however, some interventions of an ideological
nature, which suppressed almost at birth certain emerging ruptures; I mean the views
expressed in the fourth century by Basil the Great in his classic text To Youths on How
* An early form of this paper was presented at the symposium organised by the European Cultural
Centre of Delphi (Delphi, 68 July 2012) under the title The University in Europe. From the Academy of
Plato to the Magna Charta Universitatum of Bologna.

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to Profit from Greek Literature, and (a little later and on a more theoretical level) by
Gregory of Nazianzos.1
All these points apply almost entirely to the first two stages of education, i.e.
the school of the grammatistes, who was responsible for the of his young
charges, and most certainly for that of the grammatikos or maistor, in many ways an
important school which provided the and gave pupils a solid foundation in classical literature, grammar, rhetoric and certain complementary subjects.2
The same seems to be true of higher education, to use the current term, which does
exist, although it has few similarities with the structure of present-day universities.
It should be pointed out (although it is almost common knowledge) that in Antiquity
or Byzantium there were no Institutions of higher education in the specific sense in
which the term is used today. Ltat tout puissant, as Paul Lemerle puts it, represented of course by the emperor himself, saw, already since Roman times, to the education of those who will staff the state machine, through a number of largely public
officials who provide knowledge and enjoy special privileges, such as tax exemption,
purely for reasons of public interest.3 This was not achieved by means of a centripetal
organisation of the various fields of study, but rather through the familiar diffusion
of education, ensured by the unhindered operation, at least until the sixth or even the
seventh century, of the famous schools of Late Antiquity. These were attended or
frequented by the middle class of the time under the traditional view that the cultural side of Antiquity constituted a source of inspiration, reflection, critical thought
and research.4 The schools in question focused on specific areas of study: Platonic
and mostly Neoplatonic philosophy for the school of Athens, rhetoric for that of
Antioch, broader classical and philosophical studies for the schools of Alexandria and
1
A. Markopoulos, , ed. . Chrysos, Byzantium as
Oecumene, Athens 2005, 183200, esp. 184185, 186187. Cf. also idem, Education, edd. Elizabeth
Jeffreys et al., The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford 2008, 785795, esp. 785, 786. Both
papers contain an extensive bibliography on the subject. As regards the rivalry between Christians and the
followers of earlier religions, which is a major issue at the time, the bibliography is notoriously vast. I note
here for instance the recent, very interesting if highly personal and often excessively scathing approach of
Alan Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome, Oxford 2011, and the discreet response by St. Ratti, Polmiques
entre paens et chrtiens. Histoire, Paris 2012.
2
Markopoulos, , 184185; idem, De la structure de lcole byzantine. Le
matre, les livres et le processus ducatif, ed. B. Mondrain, Lire et crire Byzance, Paris 2006, 8596,
esp. 8889; idem, Education, 788789. See also two relevant contributions by G. Cavallo, Lire Byzance,
Paris 2006, 3840, and more importantly Oralit scrittura libro lettura. Appunti su usi e contesti didattici
tra antichit e Bisanzio, edd. L. Del Corso-O. Pecere, Libri di scuola e pratiche didattiche dallAntichit
al Rinascimento, 1, Cassino 2010, 1136, esp. 1221 and passim. With regard to Late Antiquity, R. A.
Kasters, Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, Berkeley 1988, remains a valuable reference, particularly the section of prosopography (p. 231 ff.). Cf. also idem, Notes on
Primary and Secondary Schools in Late Antiquity, TAPA 113 (1983) 323346.
3
P. Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin, Paris 1971, 50 ff. See the very interesting study of
S. Ratti, La culture du prince entre historiographie et idologie, edd. J.-M. Pailler-P. Payen, Que reste-t-il
de lducation classique? Relire le Marrou. Histoire de lducation dans lAntiquit, Toulouse 2004,
297306.
4
See the bibliography often excessive, as it includes papers not directly relevant to the subject
in D. DeForest, Between Mysteries and Factions: Initiation Rituals, Student Groups, and Violence in
the Schools of Late Antique Athens, Journal of Late Antiquity 4 (2011) 315342, esp. 315 n. 2. See also
the careful observations of J. Beaucamp, Le philosophe et le joueur. La date de la fermeture de lcole
dAthnes, TM 14 (2002) 2135, esp. 2324 and n. 11.

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Aphrodisias; archaeological excavations have brought to light the latters building,


dating probably from the AD fifth century, decorated with the busts of Pindar, Socrates,
Pythagoras, Aristotle and even Alcibiades and Alexander the Great.5 Philosophy was
also the focus of the school of Apameia, the favourite city of Iamblichos according to
Libanios,6 while Caesarea turned towards Christian and Jewish literature and thought,
equipped with an outstanding library comparable to that of Alexandria, mostly thanks
to the efforts of Pamphilos, as well as with famous scriptoria, as indicated by the
highly probable creation there of the codex Sinaiticus.7 Finally, Berytus cultivated
legal studies, from early on and at a very high level.8 Despite the axiomatic dictum
of Alexander Kazhdan, who declares, with regard to legal education, that the system
of private education in law typical of the early Roman Empire was replaced, during
the late Roman Empire, by a system of state universities,9 these schools remained
private, like the schools of the first two levels, although at times they elicited funds
either from the state or from their host cities.10
We now have some knowledge about the internal organisation and operation of
many of these institutions beyond the most prominent ones of Athens and Alexandria,
on which there was always sufficient information, recently augmented by excavation
findings.11 I note some examples: prospective students at the school of Antioch, which
5
R. R. R. Smith, Late Roman Philosopher Portraits from Aphrodisias, JRS 80 (1990) 127155;
idem, Late Antique Portraits in Public Context: Honorific Statuary at Aphrodisias, JRS 89 (1999) 155
189. See also K. E. Welch, Some Architectural Prototypes for the Auditoria at Kom el-Dikka and Three
Late Antique (Fifth Cent. AD) Comparanda from Aphrodisias in Caria, edd. T. Derda et al., Alexandria.
Auditoria of Kom el-Dikka and Late Antique Education, Warsaw 2007, 115133. Charlotte Rouechs,
Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity, London 1989, 8597 and passim, remains essential. On the recently published material from inscriptions see P. Athanassiadi, La lutte pour lorthodoxie dans le platonisme tardif
de Numnius Damascius, Paris 2006, 198 and n. 20.
6
Libanii opera, ed. R. Foerster, Leipzig 19031927, 11, ep. 1389, 3. On the city and the importance of the school founded there see, for instance, Athanassiadi, La lutte pour lorthodoxie, 47 ff.
7
A. Grafton-M. Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book. Origen, Eusebius, and
the Library of Caesarea, Cambridge Mass. 2006, 178 ff., 215 ff. and passim.
8
On the school of Berytus see below, p. 3233, 36.
9
Law Schools, ODB 2, 1196; my emphasis.
10
See Ilsetraut Hadot, Arts libraux et philosophie dans la pense antique. Contribution lhistoire
de lducation et de la culture dans lAntiquit, Paris 2005, 217220, 226, 244, 251, 451453 and passim;
also Markopoulos, Education, 786, 790 with bibliography.
11
On the findings in Athens see A. Frantz, The Athenian Agora: results of excavations conducted
by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens XXIV: Late Antiquity A. D. 267700, Princeton
1988, esp. 88 ff., where she discusses, among many other interesting things, House C, subsequently
linked to Damaskios by P. Athanassiadi, Damascius. The Philosophical History, Athens 1999, 343 ff.;
also eadem, La lutte pour lorthodoxie, 199200. There is more certainty concerning the attribution
of a house in the broader region of the Acropolis to Proklos: A. Kariveri, The House of Proklos
on the Southern Slope of Acropolis: A Contribution, ed. P. Castrn, Post-Herulian Athens AD 267
529, Helsinki 1994, 115139. The latest book of A. Kaldellis, The Christian Parthenon. Classicism
and Pilgrimage in Byzantine Athens, Cambridge 2009, does not add to the analysis attempted here.
In Alexandria, specifically at Kom el-Dikka in the old town centre, a kind of theatre, which might
be more correctly called an auditorium, was excavated; a number of small auditoria, for thirty persons, were discovered nearby. These buildings, which are relatively safely dated in the AD sixth century, were built probably as teaching rooms but also used for public readings. See on this Alexandria.
Auditoria of Kom el-Dikka and Late Antique Education, mentioned earlier (n. 5), passim, and esp. the
paper of G. Majcherek, The Late Roman Auditoria of Alexandria: An Archeological Overview, 1149;
see also idem, The Auditoria of Kom el-Dikka: A Glimpse of Late Antique Education in Alexandria,

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was dominated by the personality of Libanios after AD 354,12 submitted an application


accompanied by the letter(s) of references required by the great rhetorician.13 As almost everywhere in Byzantium,14 this was a one-man school, although Libanios often
employed grammatikoi to undertake the teaching of classical texts, which he deemed
of major importance; some of Libanios associates either worked in Antioch or were
former students of his.15 The highly organised operation of the school was assisted by
the existence of an association of alumni, whose frequent meetings and close contact
with the orator via personal correspondence promoted the image of the institution
and of Libanios in particular.16 The law school of Berytus was included by Justinian
(527565), alongside that of Constantinople, in the constitutio Omnem of the year
533,17 after which it adopted a rigorous five-year curriculum with distinct subjects
for each year, although, in all fairness, this was not much different from the previous
programme.18 The legal text was read in Latin, interpreted by the antecessores, who
were also called ,19 and then translated into Greek by
the students; most of them had difficulties in understanding Latin, and the teachers
intervened to resolve them.20 It is worth noting that there are surviving explanatory
texts by antecessores although the only complete one is the paraphrasis of the
Institutes, known as Institutiones Theophili as well as student notes.21 Finally, there
is evidence of the existence of student unions which participated in School matters.22
If all this is observed in the periphery, where the mobility of teachers and students and the wealth of relevant information fully confirms Lemerles view of the
early Byzantine era as unique in many ways,23 great care is required when it comes
Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth International Congress of Papyrology, Ann Arbor 2007, Ann Arbor
(American Studies in Papyrology) 2010, 471484.
12
R. Cribiore, The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch, Princeton 2007, 84.
13
Ibid., 111 ff.
14
R. Browning, Literacy in the Byzantine World, BMGS 4 (1978) 3954, esp. 46.
15
Cribiore, The School of Libanius, 3037.
16
Ibid., 104 ff. A briefer survey of Libanios overall educational activity is provided again by R.
Cribiore, The Value of a Good Education: Libanius and Public Authority, ed. Ph. Rousseau (with the assistance of J. Raithel), A Companion to Late Antiquity, Chichester 2009, 233245.
17
It remains unknown whether the law school of Constantinople continued for any time after
Justinians death; see Sp. Troianos, , Athens3 2011, 101 and n. 21, 147.
18
See Troianos, , 99 ff., esp. 101 n. 22. On law studies before Justinian cf. Fr. Wieacker,
. Leistung und Grenzen der frher ostrmischen Rechtswissenschaft, Festgabe fr
Johannes Sontis, Munich 1977, 5389.
19
P. Collinet, Histoire de lcole de droit de Beyrouth, Paris 1925, 124 ff.; P. I. Zepos,
, Byzantium. Tribute to Andreas N. Stratos, 2, Athens 1986, 735749, esp.
742 n. 12.
20
Sp. Troianos, , Athens-Komotini 2000, 27 ff. See also very recently H. de Jong, Stephanus on the Condictiones in D. 121: A Byzantine Classification, .
. 44 (20122013) 193207. Averil Cameron writes from another point
of view: Old and New Rome: Roman Studies in Sixth-Century Constantinople, edd. Ph. Rousseau M.
Papoutsakis, Transformations of Late Antiquity. Essays for Peter Brown, Aldershot 2009, 1536. Cf. also
A. Markopoulos, Roman Antiquarianism: Aspects of the Roman Past in the Middle Byzantine Period
(9th-11th centuries), Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London 2126
August, 2006, Plenary Papers, 1, Aldershot 2006, 277297, esp. 280281.
21
Troianos, , 104108, with extensive bibliography.
22
Markopoulos, , 198199 and n. 65. Troianos, , 100 ff.
23
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 51.

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to examining the presence of Byzantium, as a state, in the educational practice, with


a view to reinforcing the educational image of Constantinople. This latter city had no
history of higher schools, and things were likely to remain fluid for a period of time
necessary for the citys ideological determinants to take shape. Yet these state interventions did not always have the same starting point. When Libanios, after brilliant
studies at the school of Athens, arrives in Constantinople in the AD 340s in search
of work as well as of contacts with the teachers already established there, he finds
sophists teaching in the market, having obtained official positions remunerated by
the state, according to the old practice;24 indeed, as he notes, one of these sophists,
coming from Cappadocia, taught from the special throne in the exedra.25 Libanios
involvement in the quarrels between the rival sophists will get the eminent rhetorician into judicial adventures and cost him his stay permit in Constantinople, forcing
him to flee rather hastily to Nikomedeia.26 Libanios returns again to Constantinople,
most probably between 348 and 355, but this second journey only adds to his unpleasant impressions, despite the honours lavished upon him by the Emperor Constantius
(337361).27
Constantinople evolves into the intellectual capital of the Empire in the time of
Constantius, after 355.28 As is widely known, a key role in this process was played by
Themistios. This Paphlagonian pagan, as Dagron describes him,29 was admitted to the
Senate, following a letter of imperial recommendation sent to this supreme state institution, in which Themistios appointment is explained in detail.30 This decision enabled the emperor to introduce a new policy on many levels; in the area of education
in particular, the invitation to Themistios to teach in Constantinople clearly reflects
Constantius determination to furnish the new capital with the intellectual prestige it
hitherto lacked, despite the rather sparse presence of sophists.31 The orator, who
would teach from the citys , even renouncing his philosophical capacity in order to be able to attack the sophists by demolishing their arguments, while
they often derided him,32 would soon repay his debt to Constantius. In his well-known
speech of the year 357 on the occasion of the celebrations for the emperors vicennalia in Rome, from which he was absent, oddly enough ,33 Themistis says that
the new role assigned to Constantinople is mainly intellectual rather than commercial,
as one might expect because of its advantageous location; the citys mission was to
preserve the classical past through the Greek language and spread it all over the then
Cribiore, The School of Libanius, 6061.
For the exedra see W. L(oerke), ODB 2, 769; D. Chatzilazarou,
4 (unpubl. postgraduate thesis), Athens 2011, 90, and Majcherek, The
Late Roman Auditoria of Alexandria, 25 and fig. 14.
26
G. Dagron, Naissance dune capitale. Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 451, Paris2
1984, 220221; Cribiore, The School of Libanius, 61.
27
Dagron, Naissance dune capitale, 222.
28
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 54 ff.
29
Dagron, Naissance dune capitale, 380.
30
G. Dagron, LEmpire Romain en Orient au IVe sicle et les traditions politiques de lHellnisme.
Le tmoignage de Thmistios, TM 3 (1968) 1242, esp. 60 ff.
31
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 55 ff.; Dagron, Naissance dune capitale, 125127 and passim.
32
Dagron, Le tmoignage de Thmistios, 24, 4243.
33
Ibid., 205 ff.
24
25

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known world. In the same speech Themistis applauds the process of copying texts
and setting up a library, which was under way in the new capital at the time, again with
the emperors consent.34
It is obvious that the variously significant presence of Themistios in
Constantinople and his influence on the new capitals educational matters and intellectual life, always from within a safe net of imperial protection, largely paved the
way for the founding of the Pandidakterion by emperor Theodosios II (408450).
Inaugurated in 425,35 this was beyond doubt an institutional novelty; it is the first time
that Byzantium as a state goes into intellectual matters with the aim of instituting a
new educational policy and a new system in parallel to the existing one which, on the
other hand, had both a long history and an active presence (purely private education,
education with discreet state support, etc.). It must be stressed that this unprecedented
school had the exclusive purpose of educating officials for the administration of the
state; this is what led Lemerle to speak of a state monopoly in the subject of universities.36 It is significant that what Themistios had proposed about promoting the
Greek language in 357, is put into practice by this novel institution, which had an
almost equal number of teachers for Greek and Latin.37 It is also worth noting at this
point that in the fourth century the Empire experienced a rivalry between Greek and
Latin, caused exclusively by the switch towards learning Latin on the part of those
Greek speakers who were after a career in the state machine.38 Yet, after the death
of Thedosios I (395) and the resultant split of the Empire, a new lingual boundary
was created and became associated with the corresponding choices of the various
social classes. Therefore, the original tendency towards having a single state with
two official languages in use, Greek and Latin, falls into decline, judging from the
Pandidakterion, and is abandoned over time, as is broadly known and accepted.39
It is almost certain that the Pandidakterion did not continue after the reign of
Herakleios (610641); more correctly, perhaps, we have no evidence that it did.40
After that, the state will undertake no further action in the field of higher education and, apart from the constitutio Omnem,41 it will be more than two hundred years
before the next state initiative: the establishment of the school of Magnaura (855),
34
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 5660. Cf. N. G. Wilson, Scholars of Byzantium, London 1983,
50; J. Vanderspool, Themistius and the Imperial Court, Ann Arbor 1995, 96100; Markopoulos,
, 192; Chatzilazarou, , 101. A. Kaldellis (Hellenism in Byzantium. The
Transformation of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition, Cambridge 2007, 73) aptly
points out that Themistios served as a model politician and philosopher in later Byzantine times.
35
Cd. Theod.14.9.3=Cod. Just.11.19.1.
36
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 64. P. Specks review of Lemerles book is very useful in the
context of what is discussed here: BZ 67 (1974) 385393 (= Understanding Byzantium, ed. S. Takcs,
Aldershot 2003, n. II). Cf. also A. K(azhdan), University of Constantinople, ODB 3, 2143.
37
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 6364. More details in Wilson, Scholars, 49 ff.
38
See G. Dagron, Aux origines de la civilisation byzantine: Langue de culture et langue dtat,
Revue Historique 241 (1969), 2356 (=La romanit chrtienne en Orient, London 1984, no. ); Br.
Rochette, Le latin dans le monde grec. Recherches sur la diffusion de la langue et des lettres latines dans
les provinces hellnophones de lempire romain, Brussels 1997, 130 ff.
39
Markopoulos, Roman Antiquarianism, 280281, with all the relevant bibliography.
40
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 77 ff. See also W. WolskaConus, Stphanos dAthnes et
Stphanos dAlexandrie. Essai didentification et de biographie, REB 47 (1989) 589, esp. 16 ff., 82 ff.
41
See above p. 32.

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discussed below.42 The reasons behind this change in state policy go back to the times
of Justinianand I believe that scholars are unanimous on this matter. It is during
that time that the earlier state dogma (once again essentially formed by Themistios),
whereby Hellenism and Christianity should be treated as two worldviews diametrically opposed yet capable of coexisting,43 gives way to Justinians dogma of a single state with a single language harsh though the reality was for an emperor like
Justinian, a fervent lover of Latin and a single religion with no exceptions. Thus in
September 529 Justinian issues the well-known edict by which he bans pagans, heretics and Jews from teaching; it is then that the closure of the school of Athens takes
place, although it had been showing signs of advancing decline,44 despite the presence
of Damaskios, who had been teaching philosophy there since the early sixth century.45 As a consequence, research, a key element of education in the earlier centuries,
recedes; the antecessores of law schools are replaced by scholastikoi, who are closer
to rhetoric than to law theory;46 everything is codified; teachers lose the tax immunity
they had enjoyed for centuries; and literary production is almost placed under control,
although Justinians efforts in this area were not successful.47 Nevertheless, I should
like to point out that Michael Maas exaggerates when he talks about the enhanced role
of the Church during the same period, especially with regard to education; I believe it
would be more accurate to say that the state uses the church as well in order to avert
any deviations from its own rules, particularly after the Nika revolt (532).48
It would be a distortion of the reality of those times to claim that, after Justinians
rigorously enforced institutional decisions on education, Byzantium severed the umbilical cord that linked it to education and knowledge more generally. I believe that
such generalisations, which Alexander Kazhdan accepts at least in part when he speaks
about a culturally silent Byzantium in direct contrast to an eloquent Antiquity,49 are
extreme and out of tune with reality. On the other hand, there is no doubt that from
the seventh century onward our sources almost dry up and it is hard to find information on higher education or, indeed, on any education at all. Nevertheless, the educational level of an admittedly limited lite, in the cities rather than in the countryside,
remains high, since the educational process is not disrupted, as one concludes from
See below p. 3839.
See Dagron, Le tmoignage de Thmistios, 163186, with an extensive analysis of the relevant
speech of Themistios. Cf. also Vanderspool, Themistius and the Imperial Court, 138139.
44
Cod. Just.1.5.18;1.11.10. See Beaucamp, Le philosophe et le joueur, passim, esp. 2425 and
n. 2224, with an analysis of the causes behind this decision. Watts, however, adopts a different focus
in the paper cited below. Cf. also Chr. Wildberg, Philosophy in the Age of Justinian, ed. M. Maas, The
Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, Cambridge 2005, 316340.
45
Athanassiadi, La lutte pour lorthodoxie, 199; E. Watts, Justinian, Malalas, and the End of
Athenian Philosophical Teaching in A. D. 529, JRS 94 (2004) 168182, esp. 169.
46
Troianos, , 147148 ff.
47
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 72; Cl. Rapp, Literary Culture under Justinian, The Cambridge
Companion to the Age of Justinian, 376397, esp. 392 ff., and recently P. Athanassiadi, Vers la pense
unique. Le monde de lintolrance dans lAntiquit tardive, Paris 2010, 114 ff.
48
M. Maas, Roman Questions, Byzantine Answers: Contours of the Age of Justinian, The
Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, 327, esp. 2021.
49
A. Kazhdan, Der Mensch in der byzantinischen Literaturgeschichte, JB 28 (1979) 121, esp.
14 (= Authors and Texts in Byzantium, Aldershot 1993, no. ).
42
43

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numerous testimonies, predominantly in hagiographical texts;50 after all, it is in the


cities that Justinian seeks literate witnesses for judicial procedures concerning inheritance or other similar cases.51 In any case, the scattered information at our disposal,
which has been analysed mainly by Lemerle, so that any further analysis is rendered
superfluous,52 confirms that no new institutions emerge. Moreover, the major crisis
that hit Byzantium for a long time after the years of Herakleios has a direct impact
on education. The huge territorial losses of the time deprive the Empire of the higher
schools it still had, such as Alexandria, which had survived Justinians ban,53 while
natural disasters and epidemics come to accelerate this process: the earthquake of AD
551 destroys the law school of Berytus,54 a later earthquake razes Aphrodisias to the
ground,55 and, finally, the plague epidemic of the year 551 may well be behind the
closure of the law school of Constantinople.56
The absence of higher schools was filled by the schools of enkyklios paideia, i.e.
those run by grammatikoi. This tacit reformation was imposed by the circumstances:
namely, the abandonment of cities, the concomitant restructuring of the state, but also
(slightly later) Iconoclasm, combined with decisions which had been taken earlier
but were still enforced, would produce entirely new conditions in a state which had
hitherto operated with different structures. It would be no exaggeration to say that
this school, which almost invariably relies on one main teacher, although its structure
varies,57 essentially rises in the educational hierarchy and attempts to compensate
for the absence of higher education from the countrys intellectual life and largely
succeeds.58 It is worth noting that the internal structure of an organised school of enkyklios paideia is quite similar to that of the old higher schools;59 at least, this is what
transpires from the correspondence of the so-called Anonymous teacher, who had
established such a school in Constantinople around the mid-tenth century. There are
two cycles of study: the first cycle is taught by students of the higher grades, presumably appointed after a selection process, who are described as ,
or ;60 the second cycle is taught exclusively
by Anonymous himself, who uses dictation as his teaching method and tests his students orally at regular intervals.61 There seems to have been no limit as to how long
50
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 9899; see also very recently F. Ronconi, Quelle grammaire
Byzance? La circulation des textes grammaticaux et son reflet dans les manuscrits, edd. G. De Gregorio
et alii, La produzione scritta tecnica e scientifica nel Medioevo:libro e documento tra scuole e professioni,
Spoleto 2012, 63110, esp. 72 ff., whose views in some cases I do not share.
51
Cod. Just. 6. 23. 31.
52
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 74 ff.
53
Watts, Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching, 178.
54
Troianos, , 147.
55
Cl. F(oss), Aphrodisias, ODB 1, 128. See also above p. 31.
56
A theory proposed by A. Schminck; see Troianos, , 101 n. 21 and above p. 32 and n. 17.
57
Markopoulos, De la structure de lcole byzantine, 88.
58
Ibid., 86.
59
See above p. 30 ff.
60
Anonymi professoris epistulae, ed. A. Markopoulos, Berlin New York 2000, 8*9* (introduction), no. 20, 13 (p. 15), no. 105, 14 (p. 90), no. 80, 1 (p. 71), no. 96, 1 (p. 85). Cf. also Markopoulos, De
la structure de lcole byzantine, 88.
61
...

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37

one could stay in the school, given that former students who had been absorbed by
the state machine continued to attend classes regularly.62 The selected students had a
say in the life of this small hub of education,63 which, judging from the recipients of
Anonymous letters, had excellent connections to the palace (Anonymous exchanged
books with despina Sophia, the widow of Christopher Lekapenos),64 to high-ranking
officials, as well as to the clergy;65 indeed, the patriarchate used to subsidise its operation from time to time, albeit to the great displeasure of Anonymous.66
In justifying the presence of a school of this level in the capital at the time,
Lemerle speaks of a couche sociale urbaine which uses education for social advancement and entry into the higher echelons of the citys society.67 This felicitous assessment is corroborated by the presence of more schools of a probably similar structure
in the capital around the same time.68 On the other hand, it must be noted that only
shortly after the end of Iconoclasm (843), the Empire had already reintroduced the
institution of a higher state establishment in the form of the school of Magnaura,
founded by caesar Bardas, to whom ... (855).69
Could it be again the same couche sociale which, liberated from the long years of
dogmatic uncertainty under Iconoclasm, takes its first steps towards forming its own
lite with the graduates of this new establishment? This is more than likely, especially
if Magnauras establishment by a high-ranking official of the Empire is seen in conjunction with the appointment as head of the school of Leo the Mathematician, who
enjoyed widespread acceptance70 and whose iconoclastic past did not seem enough
to prevent him from taking the reins of this very ambitious school.71 Both Genesios
and Theophanes Continuatus speak of the three teachers that joined Leo, who taught
philosophy; they would have specific teaching duties which, as we shall see forthwith,
deviated somewhat from the familiar mathematical quadrivium of arithmetic, geom .
, (Anonymi professoris epistulae,
no. 110, 1419 [p. 94]).
62
Anonymi professoris epistulae, 6*.
63
Ibid., 9*.
64
Ibid., no. 8, 98 and 99 (p. 6 and 86).
65
Ibid., 16* ff.
66
Ibid., 5*6*.
67
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 256.
68
Ibid., 256257 ff.
69
Iosephi Genesii regum libri quattuor, ed. A. Lesmueller-Werner/I. Thurn, Berlin-New York 1978,
69, 53. See Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 159160 (where he points out the uncertainty about the year
of the establishment of the school), 165167 and passim. Also P. Speck, Die Kaiserliche Universitt von
Konstantinopel, Munich 1974, 1013 and passim; Alan Cameron, The Greek Anthology from Meleager
to Planudes, Oxford 1993, 308311 and recently P. Varona Codeso, Miguel III (842867) Construccin
histrica y literaria de un reinado, Madrid 2009, 141 ff.
70
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 159 ff.
71
On Leo, apart from what is noted by Lemerle (Premier humanisme, 148 and n. 1) and Speck
(Kaiserliche Universitt, 1 and n. 3 and passim) see PmbZ no 4440, containing an extending bibliography, to which we could add Markopoulos, , 191 and n. 35; P. Magdalino, The
road to Baghdad in the thought-world of ninth-century Byzantium, ed. L. Brubaker, Byzantium in the
Ninth Century:Dead or Alive? Aldershot 1998, 195213, esp. 199 sq.; idem, LOrthodoxie des astrologues. La science entre le dogme et la divination Byzance (VIIe-XIVe sicle), Paris 2006, 6568 and
passim; Kaldellis, Hellenism in Byzantium, 182183 and recently N. Siniossoglou, Radical Platonism in
Byzantium. Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon, Cambridge 2011, 6465.

38

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etry, music and astronomy.72 Of these three teachers, Theodore, a pupil of Leo, taught
geometry; astronomy was assigned to Theodegios and grammar to the well-known
Kometas.73 Both texts, evidently drawing on the same historical textual source, note
that the generous funding of Magnaura had been secured by Bardas himself.74
After Leos death (post 869) all traces of Magnaura are lost and there is no
evidence to show that the school continued to operate for any length of time.75 Things
seem to change again in the second half of the tenth century, around the time that
the school of Anonymous was operating in Constantinople.76 This is when the sixth
book of Theophanes Continuatus notes, in a passage impressively similar to Genesios
account but also to the fourth book of Continuatus regarding Magnaura, that
had been abandoned during that time and the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (945959), who had just come to power,
decided to reorganise the system of (higher) education by appointing four
: the protospatharios Constantine to teach philosophy, the metropolitan
Alexander of Nicaea for rhetoric,77 the patrician Nikephoros for geometry and the
asekretis Gregory for astronomy.78 With this action, the chronicle emphatically points
out, the emperor, who subsidised both teachers and students, as Bardas had done with
Magnaura, .79
The unknown author of the last section of Theophanes Continuatus seeks to exalt
Porphyrogennetos for his contribution to education,80 while the inference from a literal interpretation of this excerpt would be that Magnaura had been abandoned for a
long time before Constantine VII.
There is no mention in any source of the school of Porphyrogennetos continuing after the emperors death in 959; it is my personal view that the old practice
of abandoning the whole matter was followed in this case as well, since none of the
subsequent emperors, as far as we know, showed any interest in its operation.
The last attempt at creating a higher education institution in Byzantium came,
as is widely known, from Constantine IX Monomachos (10421055) with his very
important novel of April 1047; with this text, drafted by John Mauropous, the preexisting (private) school of Michael Psellos and John Xiphilinos, which had two
Lemerle, Premier humanisme, 132.
Iosephi Genesii regum libri quattuor, 69, 5870, 61; Theophanes Continuatus, Ioannes
Cameniata, Symeon magister, Georgius monachus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838, 192, 2023.
74
Iosephi Genesii regum libri quattuor, 70, 6772; Theophanes Continuatus 192, 1620.
75
Lemerles attempt to prove the opposite (Premier humanisme, 263266) was inconclusive; Speck
is on the right track in Kaiserliche Universitt, 22 ff.
76
See above p. 37.
77
Alexander of Nicaea corresponds with the Anonymous teacher; see Anonymi professoris epistulae, no. 69 (p. 6263).
78
I note that the teaching of rhetoric in the school of Porphyrogennetos replaced that of grammar
in Magnaura.
79
Theophanes Continuatus 446, 122. A similar text is transmitted by Vaticanus gr. 163, a manuscript coming from the so-called cycle of Symeon Logothete: A. Markopoulos, Le tmoignage du
Vaticanus gr. 163 pour la priode entre 945963, 3 (1979) 83119, esp. 5, 92. 112, 103104
(= History and Literature of Byzantium in the 9th10th Centuries, Aldershot 2004, no. ).
80
See . Markopoulos, 6 , . .
, Athens 2007, 511520, esp. 518.
72
73

ATHANASIOS MARKOPOULOS: In search for higher education in Byzantium

39

orientations, philosophy and law, was divided into separate schoolsa school of
philosophy under Psellos and a school of law under Xiphilinos.81 Yet, despite the ample information we have about the establishment and regulations of these institutions,82
as well as about their early years, it is almost certain that they did not continue for
long; indeed, the law school does not seem to survive beyond the year 1054.83
In later years and until the fall of Constantinople no higher school of the kind
described above will appear. Schools of a scope similar to that of Anonymous teacher
will dominate the scene84 and, again like the school of Anonymous, they will have
close ties to the palace.85 Other schools to emerge or survive are those with a specific educational focus, such as the philosophy school of George Pachymeres,86 the
81
Dlger, Regesten, no. 863. For the text of the novel see . & . Zepos, Jus graecoromanum,
1, Athens 1931, 618627 and Novella Constitutio saec. XI medii quae est de schola constituenda et
legum custode creando a Ioanne Mauropode conscripta a Constantino IX Monomacho promulgata,
ed. A. Sala, Prague 1954. On the question of dating of the novel see always J. Lefort, Rhtorique et
politique. Trois discours de Jean Mauropous en 1047, TM 6 (1976) 265303, esp. 272284. As regards
the revision of the education system in the time of Monomachus, I shall only cite the two papers of
W. Wolska-Conus, Les coles de Psellos et de Xiphilin sous Constantin IX Monomaque, TM 6 (1976)
223243 and Lcole de droit et lenseignement du droit Byzance au XIe sicle: Xiphilin et Psellos,
TM 7 (1979) 1107, as well as the classic contribution of P. Lemerle, Cinq tudes sur le XIe sicle
byzantin, Paris 1977, 193248. See also V. Katsaros, , ed. V. N. Vlyssidou,
The Empire in Crisis (?). Byzantium in the 11th Century, Athens 2003, 443471; Troianos, ,
216217 and n. 7, 236 and n. 68, with a review of the bibliography, and recently, L. G. Benakis, Michael
Psellos, Kommentar zur Physik des Aristoteles, editio princeps, Athens 2008, passim, esp. 21* ff. S.
D. Hondridou, , Thessaloniki 2002, 183 ff. is entirely
descriptive.
82
I note for intance that according to the content of the novel the nomophylaxthe high-ranking
state official in charge of the law schoolought to speak Greek, of course, but must also have a satisfactory knowledge of Latin in order to be able to perform his duties. The first nomophylax to be appointed,
was John Xiphilinos, the subsequent patriarch John VIII, with a rudimentary knowledge of Latin (WolskaConus, Lcole de droit, 13 ff., esp. 1721; A. Kazhdan, ODB 2, 1054).
83
Troianos, , 217 and n. 7.
84
Markopoulos, De la structure de lcole byzantine, 9091.
85
One example among many others is Theodore Hyrtakenos. See C. N. Constantinides, Higher
Education in Byzantium in the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries (1204ca. 1310), Nicosia
1982, 94; also S. Mergiali, Lenseignement et les lettrs pendant lpoque des Palologues (1261
1453), Athens 1996, 90 ff.
86
See e.g. E. Pappa, Georgios Pachymeres. Philosophia, Buch 10, Kommentar zur Metaphysik des
Aristoteles, editio princeps, Athens 2002; eadem, Georgios Pachymeres. Philosophia, Buch 6, Kommentar
zu De partibus animalium des Aristoteles, editio princeps, Athens 2008; eadem, Georgios Pachymeres.
Scholien und Glossen zu De partibus animalium des Aristoteles (cod. Vaticanus gr. 261), editio princeps, Athens 2009; K. Oikonomakos, , , , ,
, editio princeps, Athens 2005; I. Telelis, Georgios Pachymeres. Philosophia, Buch 5,
Commentary in Aristotles Meteorologica, , , editio princeps, Athens
2012. Also P. Golitsis, Un commentaire perptuel de Georges Pachymre la Physique dAristote faussement attribu Michel Psellos, BZ 100 (2007) 637676; idem, Georges Pachymre comme didascale.
Essai pour une reconstitution de sa carrire et de son enseignement philosophique, JB 58 (2008) 5368;
idem, La date de composition de la Philosophia de Georges Pachymre et quelques prcisions sur la vie de
lauteur, REB 67 (2009) 209215 and very recently idem, A Byzantine philosophers devoutness toward
God: George Pachymeres poetic epilogue to his commentary on Aristotles Physics, edd. B. Bydn-K.
Ierodiakonou, The Many Faces of Byzantine Philosophy, The Norwegian Institute at Athens 2012, 109
127, with full bibliography on the subject.

40

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medical school of John Argyropoulos, financed by the state treasury,87 or the school of
George Scholarios, who taught philosophy from his family house in Constantinople
between 1430 and 1448, to a large and multinational audience.88 As the Empires end
approaches, a cycle seems to be drawing slowly but steadily to a close in educational
affairs, which revert to earlier practices.
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